*culture is not optional, a Three Rivers-based nonprofit, was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Three Rivers Area Community Foundation.  Earlier this month *cino Executive Director Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma was presented with a $10,000 check from TRACF to help fund *cino’s Imaginarium project. Foundation Administrator and City Clerk Melissa Bliss said *cino “has been awarded $20,000 in total but in two  disbursements,  one  now  and  one  after substantial completion.”

“We’re very excited to announce that we received a $20,000 grant from the Three Rivers Area Community Foundation, which will help us meet our budget for the Imaginarium! We are so grateful to the Foundation board for supporting our work and believing in our vision,” *cino stated in an email.

The nonprofit aims to transform part of the historic Huss School, located at 1008 8th St. in Three Rivers, into the Huss Project Imaginarium. *cino is currently working towards redeveloping the original library and kindergarten room of the historic building into a multi-use indoor courtyard and meeting space.

Once the project is complete, the two-story space “will feature floor-to- ceiling bookshelves on both levels, seating and tables, refinished 100-year-old wood floors, upgraded bathrooms,  an  upgraded and expanded kitchenette, energy-efficient windows styled after the original 1919 windows, high-efficiency HVAC system, and an outdoor front porch pavilion constructed from reclaimed barn wood. “

The Imaginarium is eventually expected to support the Huss Project’s existing programming, allowing them to “expand from summer lunches to community events, after- school programs, potlucks, and more.”

Over the last two months or so, *cino has  been working on the demolition phase of the project. “We spent a good deal of November   and   December on  demolition: removing walls  that  we  won’t  need, removing  plaster  from  the brick  walls  that  connect  to the rest of the building, and removing the plaster ceiling on  the  first  floor  to  reveal the joist beams. It’s looking great,” *cino stated via email. “We’ve also been planning with and scheduling contractors to do  their various  pieces  of  the  work. The architect is finishing so we  can  move  forward  with our permit. The new windows will be installed in mid-February  and  the  new roof will hopefully be put on before  the  end  of  February (if  the  weather  cooperates). After the roof is on, things will  really  start  going:  new electric, heating and cooling, and   building   bookshelves!

Thank you, again, for all your support!”

Alek Frost can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or alek@ threeriversnews.com.